Sharpen your writing with critical thinking

At work, much of the writing we do contributes to decision-making. Whether you draft policies, write submissions, or give feedback on a report, you need to provide decision-makers with quality information. You can strengthen your writing with logical, rational arguments that are backed up by evidence.

This critical thinking process involves identifying the primary question, planning your analysis, and evaluating options and evidence. Critical thinking can help you to identify the weaknesses of the premises that support your argument, and help you make your case.

Image, Picture of a brain from an old medical textbook.

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Critical thinking — will bus lanes eliminate traffic jams?

Here’s a hypothetical example of how critical thinking can be applied to a situation.

Let’s say a policy analyst, Sam, works for a city council. He has been given the job of drafting a policy to put more bus lanes in his city.

Sam could submit that putting in more bus lanes would eliminate traffic jams because everyone would ride the bus instead of driving. After all, doesn’t everyone hate a traffic jam?

Plain English would make the writing in Sam’s submission clear. It would also reveal his argument’s flaws.

Sam could write the submission to a high standard of plain English, with features such as a clear purpose and logical structure. But the reasoning behind his argument could have weaknesses. For example, just because every street had a bus lane, commuters would not all abandon their cars, and traffic jams would not be completely eliminated. His claim would be weak and easy to dismiss.

Critical thinking will give Sam’s decision-makers more credible information and a more credible case

Using critical thinking will enable Sam to write a credible, reasoned submission that gives the council better quality information about writing a policy.

He can identify the context for his submission, and the primary question his submission needs to answer. He can back up his arguments with evidence. If the premises that support his argument all point to his conclusion as being credible, he is better able to defend his answer. Sam’s draft policy will be even more compelling if his submission is written in plain English.

An opportunity for critical thinking

Our Critical Thinking Lab is a great follow-on from our Business Writing workshop. When you use critical thinking as part of your writing process, your arguments are effective. And decision-makers get more value out of your writing and your time.

Read the Critical Thinking workshop outline

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